MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines stands to lose at least P42.9 billion in tourism revenues due to the threat of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat said on Wednesday, February 12.
During the House hearing on the economic impact of 2019-nCoV, Cavite 7th District Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla asked Puyat how much the Philippines has lost in terms of tourism receipts.
Puyat explained that P42.9 billion ($848.62 million) is the projected revenue loss for February to April this year, as the Philippines banned non-Filipino travelers coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
“P42.9 billion, it’s going to be for February, March, and April,” Puyat said, explaining that it was computed based on the past 3 years’ data.
Remulla pressed further, asking how much “exactly” has the Philippines lost since the travel ban was enforced.
But Puyat could only give the estimate of P16.8 billion ($332.33 million) for the month of February.
“If we compute the whole of February, it will be P16.8 billion, but we are still halfway. This is only based on our forecast,” she said.
When it comes to flights, Puyat, citing Civil Aeronautics Board data, said 465 flights have been canceled as of Tuesday, February 11, totaling 101,452 seats.
The Philippines also lost at least 14,211 tourists from 11 canceled cruise calls to various ports in Luzon and the Visayas. (READ: Finance team says PH economy ‘can handle’ coronavirus effects)
Before the travel ban was enforced, the Department of Tourism (DOT) had projected a total of 795,250 visitors from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan from February to April. This is less than 10% of the 9.2 million tourist arrivals targeted for the entire 2020.
But other markets have decreased trips to the Philippines, too, because of the 2019-nCoV threat:
- Europe – decreased bookings to the Philippines, some have canceled their trips
- United States – reported cancellations in Philippine Airlines flights
- Japan – 643 people have reportedly canceled their trips
- Korea – 6,576 airline booking cancellations, while 2,368 people canceled package tours
- Australia – government encourages domestic travel instead
To recover lost revenues, Puyat said the DOT is working with major airlines to roll out “more value-added tour packages, discounted accommodation rates, and marked-down prices for domestic flights.”
Puyat added that “summer packages and multi-destination” packages will be promoted yearlong in a bid to boost domestic tourism. (READ: Businesses worry more about Duterte gov’t than novel coronavirus)
The World Health Organization has warned that the 2019-nCoV outbreak is a “very grave threat.”
P50.56 = $1